Sue William Silverman

If Wild Orchids Grow from the Girl's Hair



Psycho mother rocks
in her chair
breaking the girl’s fingers under
runners, the sound of ice cracking,
the girl’s useless hands unable
to caress the man
who doesn’t belong
to her anyway.

The stallion’s white mane rises
and falls past the girl’s
window, her hair
wild with tropical
sleep, the floor beneath
her bare feet pounding
her exuberant heart.

The night newspaper obits
the man’s death
and she licks the rose
birthmark that flamed
his chest fading opaque
and milky by the time
the black truck
pulls into position.

At the grave
yard the girl is pushed
into the pit, women
yanking out her hair,
a judgment, a ruler
by which she is measured
by others, who cook and sew,
whose dream-orchids
wither in their sleep.

If only she’d leapt
from the window
when she had the chance,
her body stretched
across the stallion’s.
If only she’d gripped
his mane until she
outdistanced that life.


Sue William Silverman

Sue William Silverman’s first poetry collection is Hieroglyphics in Neon (Orchises). She is also the author of three memoirs: The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew is a finalist in Foreword Reviews’ 2014 IndieFab Book of the Year Award; Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You won the AWP Award in creative nonfiction; and Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction is also a Lifetime TV movie. Her craft book is Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir. She teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Please visit